As Light in Darkness - Ephesians 5:3-14
Ephesians 5:3-14 As Light in Darkness 2021-01-24 Walk in a way pleasing to the Lord, as light in darkness Saints and sons of disobedience. Crude talk and thanksgiving. Dark and light. Works of darkness and fruit of light. These are some of the contrasts that Paul puts before us in our passage this morning. In this passage he says a great deal concerning who you are. Child, teen, man, woman, husband, wife, father, mother. He contrasts that with where you are. Given who you are and where you are, Paul then moves to how you ought to behave. Passage: Ephesians 5:3-14 Who You Are 1. v.3 Saints - If you’re like me, you hear saints and you think about robes and halos and gold accessories. But the Bible speaks about saints as believers, the Christian, set apart by God to be holy and to live for him. Picture this - saints in hand-me-downs. 2. v.8 Light in the Lord - This is more than a change in surroundings, but a change in self. The miracle of being born again, receiving a new nature. 1. John 12:46 “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” 2. This is more than just receiving Christ’s light or reflecting light or shining light. This means that you are light. Light is powerful. You don’t turn on darkness, so that it overcomes the light. You turn on a light, and it overcomes the darkness. As you walk and talk and interact as a saint, you are light, and the darkness will be overcome by you, for Christ is in you. 3. v.14 Christ will shine on you - Eric, Natalie, and I took some of our youth on an overnight backpacking trip this last fall. We marched through the rain and arrived to camp after the sun had set. It rained and the wind blew all night, and most of us woke up wet and cold. It was one of the most sleepless nights I’ve ever had. I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up. That morning Eric got a fire started for us, we read from Scripture, we hiked in the sunshine, and had a glorious day. Warmth and life and hope. But this experience is only a faint whisper of the immense power of the light of Christ shining on you. Transition: It’s important that we understand who we are, and that we own our identity, because it’s very different from much of what we’re surrounded with. Where You Are 1. v.3 “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you…” - We have to understand that this is the reality, that we are surrounded by these, just as the Ephesians were. 1. Sexual immorality refers to engaging in or entertaining any sexual conduct, in thought or deed, that is outside of God’s good design. Impurity is often paired with sexual immorality in the NT as actions, especially of a sexual nature, that are filthy and make us unclean. Covetousness is the sinful desire for what isn’t yours, and is also linked to sexual immorality. In v.5 it’s linked to idolatry, because that object becomes what we think about, what we pursue, thus what we worship. 2. v.4 “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking…” - These are referring to ways of speaking, and again is related to sexual immorality, though doesn’t need to be limited to that. 3. vv.5-6 But I also want you to notice there is another group present in this passage - the sons of disobedience. Because you’re here this morning warming a pew doesn’t mean you’re a saint, any more than drinking coffee in my kitchen would make you a Bronson. This is a reality we need to confront, that there are those here this morning that are not Christian. Do you fall into that group? It’s a frightening place to be; I’m frightened for you, even if you don’t consider it to be frightening. Does sexual immorality, impurity, or covetousness have such a place in your life that it identifies you? Would your friends say this is commonplace for you to speak about or gravitate toward? Maybe you can keep it hidden from those closest to you, but in your heart of hearts you know, this is more than an occasional stumble, where you fail and repent and get back on course. No, this is your normal way of operating. No longer is there any conviction, but only a growing desire and thirst. Repentance and confession aren’t even considerations; only what your next step will be in pursuit of this sin. 1. Please recognize, friend, that you’re on a path to destruction. I’m not talking bad grades or fewer friends or a tougher life. I’m talking eternity. If any of these mark you, identify you, are something you practice and think about and are getting more comfortable with and proficient at — BEWARE! 2. Paul refers to this group as idolaters. An idolater is someone who worships something other than the true God. Not just Sunday morning singing, but Monday morning tasks, Wednesday evening activities, and Saturday morning pursuits. Is Jesus Savior and Lord, or do you think you can have him only as Savior, and choose another Lord to serve? It’s impossible. Transition: This was the reality for the Ephesians, that they lived in a sex-saturated society, as do we. What is the right response? How You Ought to Behave 1. v.3 “…not even named among you…” - I want to make sure you know what this isn’t saying. 1. It’s not prescribing a Victorian prudishness, where we pretend like people don’t have sex, and we never talk about it. To behave that way would be to give the victory to Satan. What’s the first command given by God to man? The late JI Packer, in his book Knowing God, points out that the first command is regarding sex. But it’s not a command of restriction. Be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). This is a good command by a loving God. 2. What this is saying is that these sins, the wrong applications of God’s good commands, shouldn’t have a place among us believers, so that people wouldn’t talk about these sins and the people of God as if they had anything to do with each other. We’re to be different and distinct, set apart as holy, understanding and engaging in God’s good commands, and not conducting ourselves according to the distortions, pollutions, and perversions of his good commands. 3. Travis and Matthew recently spent an evening with Joel and me in our workshop, and one of the tools we were using was a bandsaw. It’s a great tool, isn’t it? We were cutting out shapes on pieces of soft maple, and it worked really well. But say we take this bandsaw, remove it from its stand, expose the wheels that the bandsaw blade runs on, and use it to power a cart. It would ruin the bandsaw, but it would also likely cause the loss of fingers or worse. When we take God’s good gifts and decide to use them in ways they aren’t to be used, not only do we ruin that good gift, but we do cause positive harm. Paul says that sexual sin is especially destructive, in that it is a sin against one’s own body (1 Cor. 6:18). 4. Paul uses this strong language in Colossians 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” 2. v.4 “…which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” - We’re good at speaking the negatives and the restrictions. Is there an emphasis on thanksgiving, celebrating God’s good gifts and commands, and all that he has permitted? 3. v.6 “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” - The Ephesians had many religious teachers in their city, and no lack of influences to lead them away from wholesome words and to deceive them with empty words. Sometimes it can be our own minds that would deceive us with empty words. What is needed is the truth. 1. Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 2. Acts 20:32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” 3. James 1:21 “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” 4. Proverbs is an excellent source for wholesome words. It’s a book written from a father to a son, and no surprise, has a great deal to say about sexuality. 4. vv.8-9, 11 “Walk as children of light.” - Know this, believer, that God has you where you are for a purpose. It’s so you can be light in darkness. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus says a city set on a hill cannot be hidden, and that people don’t light a lamp only to cover it under a basket, but they put it up on a stand so it can give light to an entire house. Paul says that we are to have no company with someone who is sexually immoral. But then he clarifies that he doesn’t mean the sexually immoral in the world, since then we would need to go out of the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11). God has us here in this world so that we can be light. 5. v.10 “Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” - This is the high point and great aim. Not pleasing ourselves, and not pleasing others, though these are both great temptations. Pleasing the Lord. He is our Master, and a good God who has what is for our good and his glory. I think we’d be well served to have this phrase imprinted in our minds - “what is pleasing to the Lord.” 1. Again, Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 2. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” But Paul goes on to focus on the positive as well, that each person go forward in holiness and honor. Conclusion: We are saints, even if we wear hand-me-down clothes. We are set apart by God as holy to be holy, to conduct ourselves in ways that are consistent with who we are and what work God has done in us, that we might radiate his light and bring his life in this dark and dead world.